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How to change springs on a german-made anglo ?

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Hi everyone,


I just bought a really tiny anglo concertina (on the right of my Hohner on the picture) and I have few questions for you.


Firstly, I have no idea of the quality, brand, year, so any identification could help me.

(Edit: the reeds plates and wooden levers seems common in German-made anglos, so it's probably one)


My main problem is to fix the springs.

I already replaced a spring on my Hohner, so I have the right equipment to create new ones, but I don't know how to access springs.

I suppose I need to remove the horizontal metal rod to release all the buttons, but I don't dare pull on it too hard, and I can't see how to put it back on afterward.

Any thoughts or experience with similar systems ?


Then comes the reeds. Some are oxidized (not sure if that's the right term) and could probably be cleaned, but for the pull notes, reeds are well hidden.

It seems glued and thus quite hard to open, I don't know if it's worth a try...

(Edit: not sure it's glued, probably just hold by the 4 metal bits, but I'm afraid of breaking the wood part if I try to twist them)


If you have any tutorial to share, or other topics I missed, don't hesitate !


Thanks a lot for your help,





Edited by vnourdin
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Looks very German on the inside, so I'd hazard a guess that it's from Germany.


Re reeds: you just turn the screws and take the plate off, then you have full access to them.

Edited by mChavez
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  • Valentin Nnourdin changed the title to How to change springs on a german concertina ?

After searching a bit, it does look like it is, as you stated, a German concertina.

The reeds plates with pieces of string and the brown leather seems quite common in those.


As does the wooden levers, but I couldn't find how to dismount the mechanism to change some springs and them reassemble.


I tried to pull with a pliers the piece of metal on the bottom of my second picture, but that doesn't move at all.

I'm running out of ideas 😔

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You might be able to see the spring under the wooden lever?  Usually the spring is fixed to the underside of the lever by having the end of the spring bent at a right angle and spiked into the wooden lever, like a nail.  You might be able to get a small thin screwdriver under the remaining part of the spring to lever it out.  The new spring can be pressed into the same hole as the old one.   Neither of these operations is easy and there is a risk of damaging the wooden components which are quite fragile.

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Re plates - that's not nails, that's screws [at least I hope that's the case with your conci] . You turn the rods counter-clockwise to release the plate. Then you're free to work on it. This has to be one of the most efficient ways of mounting reeds in reed instruments imho. At least that's how it usually works - I expect yours to be the same. You can replace the valves & the gasket while you're at it, clean the reeds from that horrible-looking oxidisation and fine-tune them.

Old cracked wood might become a problem, but hopefully you'll be fine. I have often approached such cracked screw holes by carefully filling them with CA, but I know many people don't use CA for religious reasons.


For keywork, I'm with Theo - you can often remove springs without taking the axle off.

Otherwise, I don't see how this is any different to an accordion - i.e. just pull out the axle and then slide it back in again? For this age, my guess would be that the axle could have got severely corroded where it contacts the wood, which might make removing and re-fitting it a real challenge. But that's what you get for working on a prehistoric box.


Apologies for stating the obvious, but If both ends are straight, it should just be a pull. If one is curved at 90 degrees - that's the one you need to pull.

If it's permanently corroded in its place, then heating it up might be the answer. E.g. by hooking up an appropriately-sized power source...A 9v battery to both ends perhaps, for something this small? Or perhaps a soldering iron can work. The axle seems to be just a piece of spring steel wire.


Edited by mChavez
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Ps I'm not sure I'd call this a "German Concertina" as that name is typically reserved for square boxes like Chemnitzer &  Carlsfelder.

This is probably a german-made anglo? 

I don't know, I started learning to play the bandonion, and since there's no forum for bando players, I'm stuck with the concertina crowd 😆.

  • Haha 1
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  • Valentin Nnourdin changed the title to How to change springs on a german-made anglo ?

I hadn't even thought of changing the springs without removing everything !
As there is already 4 broken one, I'll try to change them all, easier to set them to the same tension too.

Given the condition of the wood and metal parts, it seems indeed more feasible to change them from under than removing the lever system, but I must prepare to be really patient with those jumping springs 😅


Nice tip mChavez for heating the axle, I keep that in mind if I don't succeed with the other method !


Thanks for your clarification about the reeds plates, I'll try to unscrew them. Some rods are just next to a reed, I hope unscrewing them won't damage the reed.
Are the pieces of string used as gasket or what you talk about is some glue that need heating ?

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The screws only need half a turn to clear the plate, so the reeds should be fine.


I think the string was used as gasket, and you are probably better off replacing it with some chamois leather strips of the same thickness, but you'll need to figure out whether the current state of the thread is OK, and whether you want to invest the time into replacing it.


One of your reed tips appears to have the tip broken - that's probably the biggest issue you'll have to address.

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fwiw, once you remove the plates and take the valves off, I'd suggest soaking the plates in some isopropyl alcohol for a day and then carefully giving them a clean, first with a paper towel, then polishing off the oxidisation. Try not to break any more reeds (although, if some break, that's probably an indication that they were buggered anyway).


My bando was in good shape despite being 90 years old, but here's the colour of the IPA after I've soaked the plates in it.





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I removed one plate, it's easy to unscrew, nice.

Thanks for the details about the IPA bath !


I'm not stingy with time, if I restore this instrument, i should do it well and not forger one part which would need restoration again in few years...


I achieved to change one spring without dismounting everything, and that comforted me in the idea that I need to dismount everything 😅

Wooden levers are fragile and I don't want to break any when I put the new spring in place. I'll try to heat the axle as you advised me.


Indeed one reed is broken and I'll need to change it, big challenge but I'll deal with that in the end, lot of work to do before !

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Bad news, one axle broke...


I connected a 9V battery to each ends for some hours (could have wait more) and as the axle seemed to move more than before, I tried to gently pull it turning anti clockwise. It moved a bit and then broke.


So I have one side with just the hole (first lever is released) and the opposite is really too short to do anything (tried to pull with pliers but no way to pull).


The picture shows the broken bit and the opposed side.



Any idea ? 


At this point I'm really thinking of reproducing the whole wooden part, which seems simpler with right tools...

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I was going to suggest the same. Re-making the comb should take less than half an hour given the right skills and tools. It would take more time to chisel the old one off carefully, so you don't damage the soundboard. And you can even upgrade it with a brass 2mm axle if you want. That spring steel axle looked like a design fault to me, and it sounds like it was completely buggered anyway.


Fwiw this is why I started making my next bando from scratch... Easier than fixing old stuff with design flaws ;)


An alternative would be to try driving this old axle with a rod of similar diameter but I think it's more work than a new comb. 

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The main problem with making a new comb is the drilling of the holes for the axle. That's not an easy job if you don't have the right tools. I can take a photo of my old traditional bando set up that might be easier for you to make if that's of any interest. Each key is individually mounted and there's a mini axle for each key rather than one long axle that holds all of them. 

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I must indeed first figure out how to remove the existing comb without destroying everything...

I'll try to find a similar rod to push the old one away, it could save me some efforts.


It definitely seems easier to create something from scratch, but I haven't any tools right now, so I'll try to find a fablab near.

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I went to the local accordion repairman to show him, but he have no idea to fix that.


The big problem is to remove the broken axle. We tried with his tools but he don't have any with such thinness and strong enough to push the corroded axle...

He told me to see if a shoemaker could have such tool.


And we couldn't find a way to separate the comb and the levers without breaking the levers and probably the wood plate.


He told me to keep the 'tina as decoration because it's far too much work for an unpredictable result 🫠

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I agree with the repairman’s conclusion.  It’s not worth trying to rescue this concertina.  This was a cheap concertina when it was made using low quality materials.  Most of what you would learn from attempting repairs would not be applicable to working on a better quality instrument.  If you do manage to repair the action you will find even more frustrations await you when you move on to dealing with the reeds, and the bellows.  

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